I heard the gospel because a Salvation Army corps sergeant-major kept his promise.

Solidier On

I heard the gospel because a Salvation Army corps sergeant-major kept his promise. I started drinking on weekends when I was 12. A few years later, it was several times a week. Then it became daily. By the time I was 30, I was smoking three packs of cigarettes and drinking a bottle of vodka every day.

I had always promised my kids I would stay sober on Christmas Day. But in 1983, just before my 38th birthday, I didn’t. I got to thinking if I couldn’t stay sober one day a year, maybe I had a problem.

When a friend suggested I go to church with him, I said no. I’d never been in a church, other than for weddings and funerals. But I said I would maybe go to The Salvation Army. He asked the corps sergeant-major at Lloydminster Corps, Alta., Elmo King, to call me. I told Elmo if he was standing on the street when I drove by on Sunday, I’d come in.

He was there. That morning, I heard the gospel for the first time in my life.

After the meeting, Elmo invited me out for lunch. Why not?—a free meal, I thought. He told me all about Christ and asked if I wanted to accept him into my heart. I said no.

But I kept thinking about what he’d said. Later that afternoon, a feeling came over me. I went into my bedroom and prayed. Jesus, if you are who Elmo says you are, and if you can do what he says, then come into my heart and take over my life, because I can’t do it anymore.

At 3 p.m. on January 15, 1984, I became a Christian. That night, I went to the evening meeting and publicly accepted Christ during the altar call.

“Jesus,” I prayed, “come into my heart and take over my life, because I can’t do it anymore.”

I never had another drink, and quit smoking the next week. Three months later, I became a senior soldier.

When I retired after 30 years as a truck driver, I went into full-time service for the Army, working as an envoy in Nelson, B.C., until my health declined. I’ve had eight heart attacks.

In 2004, after my fifth heart attack, doctors gave me a five per cent chance of surviving open-heart surgery. But we prayed and I came through.

As a volunteer with emergency and disaster services, I was called to go to Calgary to help after the floods, but found out I couldn’t work in a crisis response unit while on oxygen. If God wants me to go, he can do something about it, I thought. I’d been on oxygen for six years, but on the way to Calgary, I took it off, and haven’t needed it since then. I believe God healed me so I could do his will.

I’ve been a volunteer with our community care ministries here in Swift Current, Sask., for the past 14 years, and I try to support our officers in any way I can.

My relationship with Christ has grown over time. When someone asks me about my faith, I tell them my story, and to give God a try—they won’t be sorry.

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